- IT leadership best practices for CIOs, CTOs and CDOs
- Canada’s tech sector is targeting Europe does it have what it takes to compete?
- Declining industries
Read some of our most popular articles on issues faced in Canada’s tech sector by IT decision makers, such as how to get the most out of the internet of things, and how to tailor your IT operating model to fit in the digital age. We explore how Canada’s tech sector is targeting Europe and what CIOs can expect from the country’s industry.
We also speak to Wagamama CIO about adopting “pay by walking out” technology so that customers don’t have to wait for their bill before leaving a restaurant.
Canada’s tech sector is targeting Europe does it have what it takes to compete?
Despite strong historic and cultural links to the UK and France, Canada is only the 16th largest exporter of technology-related products to the European Union, with a market share of just 0.5% of EU tech imports.
That is a situation the country hopes to improve as new economic and geopolitical opportunities open up, encouraging the Canadian government to target IT buyers in the EU to promote and grow its IT sector.
Ask a European CIO to name a Canadian tech company and they may mention BlackBerry – formerly a flagship, until it became a shipwreck. Similarly, Nortel was a well-known telecoms supplier in Europe until 2009, when it became Canada’s largest bankruptcy.
In contrast, Canadian IT service provider CGI was biggest winner of new UK government IT contracts in 2017, with £844 million of deals, largely a legacy of its 2012 acquisition of Logica for £1.7 billion.
And if you have a requirement for content management systems, you’re likely to be familiar with OpenText, Canada’s largest software company.
Frankly, that’s probably the extent of most European IT leaders’ knowledge of the country’s tech sector. However, the elimination of tariffs on Canadian IT products under the CETA free-trade deal agreed between Canada and the EU in 2017 – and the current political instability of its nearest neighbor – could mean that is about to change.
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Canada’s historic industrial strengths in oil and gas, commodities mining and agriculture are slowly declining and the government is looking to invest in new growth sectors, particularly technology and life sciences.
With a young, liberal, media-friendly prime minister in Justin Trudeau contrasting with the belligerence and nationalism of US president Donald Trump, Canada hopes to take advantage.
“Trudeau is our best salesman – Trump is our second-best salesman,” said one Canadian economic development executive, during a visit by Computer Weekly to Montreal to meet some of the tech sector’s emerging leaders. Several people echoed the “Trump effect” as a timely driver for Canada’s plans.
For example, Vancouver, on Canada’s Pacific coast, is less than two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Seattle, home to Microsoft and Amazon. Both tech giants are building sizeable development centres in the city because it is easier to bring in overseas tech talent thanks to Canada’s visa regime.
In the US, Trump’s immigration crackdown means some foreign workers aren’t allowed in, and even for those who are, the number of H-1B visas typically used for high-level tech jobs has been reduced over time.
By contrast, the Canadian government is operating a two-year pilot programme to attract global talent, whereby anyone with the requisite tech skills and a job earning at least C$80,000 can get a work visa in just two weeks.
Also, through a combination of federal and regional tax credits for businesses, the government will fund up to 50% of salary costs for e-business and research and development (R&D) activities.
Samsung, Google, Facebook and Apple are among the global tech companies looking to take advantage by investing in Canadian operations.